I have just returned from a retreat with the Brothers of the Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE) at their monastery in Cambridge, Mass.
I cherish these times, free from the hectic pace of my ministry, from the frenzy of one meeting after another, each with its own expectations and demands. I enjoy the rhythm of life in a community whose first and most important work is prayer. At the break of day, mid-day, and at the end of day, all of life is lifted heavenward.
I thank God for the ministry of these brothers-their hospitality and their care for each pilgrim who comes to their door.
In their gentle but firm way, they redirect my attention from all the work I might plan to do on retreat. They remind me that I am there for rest, refreshment and recreation. I am there to draw close to Jesus, the Beloved of God. I am there at his invitation, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). After the example of the beloved disciple, I am called to draw so near to Him, that I not only hear his voice, but the very beat of his heart-his heart of love for me and for us all.
This year’s retreat was especially important as I approach the fifth anniversary of my installation as primate of our beloved church. It continues to be a great joy to travel this country and to see our church in all its beauty, diversity, grace and courage in the face of many challenges. I rejoice in our commitment to the Marks of Mission at home and throughout the world.
In this ministry entrusted to me, I am grateful for your prayers, day by day, week by week.
As we look down the future’s broadening way, may we never lose sight of Jesus, The Beloved of God who goes before us. Let us never forget that in him, we too are the beloved of God.
Can we imagine such love, can we comprehend, embrace and celebrate it?
“Honestly,” writes one of the Brothers, Kevin Hackett, “I am more familiar with the voice of chaos than the voice of God saying ‘Beloved’ to me. Yet I also know that each of us has opportunity to reclaim that word, which God still speaks over every one of us, while we flounder and flop through the muddy, messy waters that characterize so many of our lives-sometimes of our own making, more often not. But through it all, the voice of the Lord says, ‘Beloved. You-yes, you-are my beloved.’ “
Archbishop Fred Hiltz is primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.